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Summer Recipes

Metroland writers share a few of their favorite summer recipes and picnic spots

by The Staff on June 2, 2011

Cilantro Pesto

Amy Halloran

2 cups fresh cilantro, leaves and stems

1/2 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup sesame seeds

3-6 cloves garlic

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. sesame oil

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

1 tsp. salt

Chop cilantro, seeds, and garlic in food processor. Add oils, vinegar and salt. Serve with rice and vegetables, especially egg-shaped turnips. You can find this, other recipes, and thoughts about food on my blog, Home Economics.


David’s Summertime Krunk Juice

David King

Ginger ale


Vodka (Gray Goose reccomended, Mr. Boston will do in a pinch)

Marachino cherries

Fill a big plastic souvenier cup 3/4 full with ginger ale over ice. Add two jiggers of vodka. Splash in grenadine to taste. Top with ten marachino cherries. Drink. Repeat. Get krunk.


Lemon Ice Cream

Darryl McGrath

2 eggs*

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 tsp. grated lemon peel

1 cup milk **

1 cup light cream or half & half **

Beat eggs until thick and lemon-colored; gradually add sugar and continue beating until mixture is thick. Add remaining ingredients and blend. Pour into two refrigerator ice trays, or a Pyrex shallow dish. Freeze firm, break into chunks and turn out into a deep, chilled bowl. Beat with electric beater until fluffy-smooth. Pack into 1-quart yogurt containers and freeze. Makes one quart.

*This recipe contains uncooked eggs.

**The proportions of milk and cream can be varied to change the texture of the ice cream. For a more sherbet-like result, use entirely skim milk. Using all whole milk will make a lighter dessert than half milk and half cream. For a really decadent, high-dairy-fat splurge, use all heavy cream.


Stand-Alone Tomatoes

Amy Halloran

Grow or buy the best tomatoes you can stand. My favorite is Purple Cherokee. Slice them. Put them on a plate. Sprinkle with salt and just a touch of olive oil.

Sparkling Vanilla Lemonade

Kathryn Geurin

3 cups fresh lemon juice

2 cups sugar

2 cup hot water

1 liter chilled sparkling water

1/4 tsp. pure vanilla extract

Combine hot water and sugar in a pitcher, stirring until the sugar is disolved. Mix in lemon juice, vanilla extract and sparkling water. Garnish with lemon slices. Serve over ice.


Summer Cheescake

Darryl McGrath

You will need a 9-inch springform pan for this recipe. This is a no-bake, frozen cheesecake that takes about 15 minutes to put together; looks and tastes impressive; is very light; and makes a nice ending to a dinner party on a hot night.

1 1/2 cups finely ground cookies. You can use gingersnaps, Oreos, whatever. In a pinch, you can use plain breadcrumbs. Grind the cookies very fine in a blender.

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted.

2 8-oz. packages cream cheese, room temperature. Neufchatel cheese, which is very similar to cream cheese, can also be used, and it has less fat.

3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice.

1/2 cup heavy cream, chilled.

3 Tbsp. sugar, and 1 cup sugar, divided

Stir together cookie crumbs, melted butter, 3 Tbsp. sugar in a bowl. Press crumb mixture into bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

Mix cream cheese in a bowl on medium speed until fluffy, about three minutes. With mixer on low speed, beat in the cup of sugar in a steady stream. Add lemon juice; blend in. Beat cream until stiff peaks form. Fold into cream cheese filling, pour into cookie crust, smooth out with spatula, put in freezer. Freeze at least an hour; put in fridge to soften for a few minutes before serving.


Summer Tomato Sauce

Darryl McGrath

An uncooked pasta sauce that will make the house smell like a garden in August.

3 large red, ripe tomatoes (6 cups chopped)

4 large cloves of garlic, peeled but unchopped

1 small hot red or green chili, chopped, or 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped

Fresh ground pepper

1/2 cup olive oil

1 lb. penne or ziti

1 Tbsp. crumbled gorgonzola cheese

1/2 pound diced fontina cheese

1/2 cup grated parmesan or roman cheese

Wash and wipe the tomatoes. Remove cores and chop into a glass or ceramic bowl. You should have about 6 cups. Let stand at room temperature several hours or overnight; if chilled overnight, it should return to room temperature the next day before continuing.

Coarsely grate or shred the fontina cheese.

Cook and drain the pasta. Spoon 1/4 cup of surface oil from tomatoes and add to pasta. Add parmesan cheese, toss. Add 1/2 tomato sauce, and toss. Add diced fontina cheese to remaining sauce, and then add a little more sauce to pasta and toss. Serve pasta in soup bowls or pasta dishes with remaining sauce on top.


Sweet Corn, Mozzarella, and Tomato Salad

Kathryn Geurin

8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup olive oil

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/4 tsp. fresh-ground black pepper

1/8 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

12 ears of sweet corn, husked and silk removed

6 to 8 large tomatoes, seeded and cut into small pieces

1 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Note: We don’t measure spices in our house, so the salt, peppers and basil are very rough estimates

Cut the mozzarella into small pieces and marinate in the oil with salt and black and red peppers.

Scrape the corn kernels, uncooked, from the cob with a knife. In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add the corn kernels. Return water to a boil and immediately remove from heat. Drain corn and run under cold water to stop the cooking.

In a large bowl, gently combine corn kernels, tomatoes, marinated mozzarella and liquid. Mix thoroughly. Toss basil into mixture. Adjust seasonings to taste. Enjoy!



B.A. Nilsson

Tabbouleh Recipe

Here’s a dish that screams summer, having at its flavorful heart the essence of just-picked parsley and mint. Tabbouleh is a salad popular throughout the Middle East, but originating in the Lebanon-Syria area. It’s characterized by the use of bulgur wheat, and the big tabbouleh debate rages over the proportion of parsley to bulgur. I like the parsley to dominate, which throws me into the Lebanese camp.

As it has journeyed across America, tabbouleh has picked up any number of extra ingredients that can suit it well. Cucumbers, zucchini, even hard-boiled egg get worked into the dish by those unafraid of purists. What I’ll give you is more or less the recipe I’ve devised, but I must warn you that I rarely measure ingredients, and invite you to share a spontaneous approach. Serves 8.

2 bunches of flat-leaf parsley

1 cup bulgur wheat

1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped

1 small onion

6 scallions

3 tomatoes

lemon juice (shoot for fresh)

good olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

salt and pepper

Boil 1 1/2 cups of water. Pour it over the bulgur wheat; stir and let set until all the water is absorbed. Allow the mix to cool to room temperature.

Wash the parsley and mint. Wash it a lot, if necessary, but be sure it’s dry before proceeding. I punish mine in a salad spinner. Chop the parsley and mint. Use a good sharp knife to avoid bruising the leaves too much. The size of the pieces is a matter of preference: experiment. Dice the onion into small bits. Chop the whiter parts of the scallions into small circlets. Dice the tomatoes into bite-sized bits. Combine the bulgur, parsley, mint, onions, scallions and tomatoes. Toss with a lot of fresh lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil. Add enough vinegar to complicate the flavor. Salt and pepper to taste. Chill. Tabbouleh keeps well, tightly sealed, for a few days, but I trust you to polish it off before it gets soggy.


Thai Spice Tuna Sandwich

Shawn Stone

1 can Bumblebee Thai Spice Tuna Medley

2  Price Chopper hard rolls

Slice rolls. Open can. Using a plastic spoon to eliminate dishwashing, spoon half the tuna onto the bottom half of each roll. Cover tuna with the top half of each respective roll. Enjoy. Makes two sandwiches.


Watermelon Mint Feta Salad

Kathryn Geurin

1 cup chopped red onion

1 cup lime juice

Half of a medium sized watermelon, rind removed, chopped into 1-inch cubes

1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

Soak the onion in lime juice while you prepare the other ingredients (about 15 minutes). Gently combine all ingredients into a large bowl. Serve immediately.


Take That Picnic on the Road

Sure, a picnic makes for a great day in its own right, but why not double your fun by unpacking that basket on the grounds of one of the region’s cultural delights? Here are a handful of our favorite spots to indulge in art, history, music, theater and summer’s fresh bounty.


Jacob’s Pillow

358 George Carter Road, Becket, Mass., (413) 243-9919, jacobspillow.org

In addition to the world-class dance programing, “One of the greatest pleasures of the Pillow experience,” says New York Times dance critic Jennifer Dunning, “is simply to wander.” From the studios and barns to the Tea Garden and iconic Pillow Rock,  Jacob’s Pillow is infused with dance history. The bucolic grounds include 50 acres of Great Lawn, dedicated to picnicing and lounging in the summer sun, the Wetland trail includes winds through hemlock, hardwood, and pine stands, over bogs, past a New England mortarless stone wall, and along a former logging trail pathway. Free walking tours are offered Friday and Saturday evenings throughout the summer, and picnicing is welcome on the grounds.


Olana State Historic Site

5720 Route 9G, Hudson, 828-0135, olana.org

Hudson River School master Frederick Church built this Persian-style mansion and shaped its more than 250-acre landscape over forty years. Many consider the grounds, which can be explored by walking the property’s five miles of carriage drives, around the lake, through gardens, meadows, orchard and forest. The magestic, preserved home is brimming with original furniture and world-class paintings from Church’s personal collection.On weekends and holiday Mondays from April-October between 10 AM and 5PM, there is a vehicle use fee of $5 per car; all other times admission to the grounds is free. Guided tours of the house, studio and galleries are offered for $8 to $12. Picnicking is welcome on the grounds, and community programs are scheduled throughout the summer.


Park Playhouse

Washington Park, Albany, 434-0776, parkplayhouse.com

An Albany tradition for more than two decades, Park Playhouse presents an annual free outdoor musical at Washington Park’s historic Lakehouse theater, as well as two youth theater performances throughout the summer. This year’s main offering is the Tony Award-winning, off-the-wall hit The Producers, rounded out by family-friendly, Jazz-era Thoroughly Modern Millie from Park Playhouse II. You can picnic in this gem of a park, designed by no other than  Frederick Law Olmstead, and enjoy an evening of theater without spending a dime.


Storm King Arts Center

1 Museum Road, New Windsor, (845) 534-3115, stormkingartcenter.org‎

At this internationally-renowned sculpture park, 500 acres of Hudson Valley fields, hills, and woodlands are punctuated by 100 post-WWII sculptures from leading contemporary artists. The focus of the collection is on large-scale abstract steelwork, but figurative works and sculpture in stone, earth, and other materials—including site-specific installations by Maya Lin and Andy Goldsworhy—are showcased as well. Bikes are available for rental on-premesis, and two large designated picnic areas invite visitors to dine in the shadow of great sculptures. Admission to the park is $12, with discounts available for seniors, students and children, and a pay-what-you-will access the last Thursday of the summer months.



297 West Street, Lenox, Mass., (413) 637-1600, bso.org

Picnics on the Tanglewood lawn are a touchstone of the Berkshire Summer season. Concertgoers can indulge in a sunset picnic while enjoying the strains of the full Boston Pops Orchestra, more intimate chamber music, or the likes of James Taylor, Garrison Keillor and Steely Dan. There are designated areas for the kiddos to play ball, and you can even score a free show by lunching during the orchestra’s open rehersals.